Habersham County History
Historical Collections of Georgia
Containing the Most
Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes,
Relating to its History and Antiquities, From its First Settlement To The present Time
Compiled From Original Records and Official Documents.
Illustrated by Nearly One Hundred Engravings of Public Buildings, Relics of Antiquity, Historic Localities, Natural Scenery, Portraits of Distinguished Men, Etc., Etc.
By The Rev. George White, M. A., Author of the "Statistics of Georgia."
New-York: Pudney & Russell. Publishers.
No. 79 John Street.
HABERSHAM COUNTY was laid
out by the Lottery Act of 1818. Length, 31 m.; breadth, 23 m.; area,
713 square miles.
The country is broken by mountains. The most valuable lands are below the Currahee Mountain, on Tugaloo, Middle, Hudson's, and Soquee rivers, adapted to wheat and corn.
The climate is unsurpassed.
The principal streams are the Chattahoochee, the Soquee, and Middle rivers. The county furnishes some excellent farms.
CLARKESVILLE, the county seat, was named after Governor John Clarke, and incorporated in 1823. It is most delightfully situated near the southwest bank of the Soquee River, and its beauty is increased by the picturesque grandeur of the surrounding country. It is 136 miles north of Milledgeville.
Habersham contains several small but pleasant villages, among which are Loudsville, Mount Yonah, and Nacoochee Valley. With the latter place is connected an Indian legend, as follows: --
" Long before the
Anglo-Saxon had made his first footprints on these western
shores-long before even the Genoese visionary had dreamed of a new world beyond the columns of Hercules, there dwelt in this lovely valley a young maiden of wonderful and almost celestial beauty. She was the daughter of a chieftain-a
princess. In doing homage to her, the people of her tribe almost forgot the Great
Spirit who made her, and endowed her with such strange beauty. Her name
was Nacoochee-' The Evening Star.' A son of the chieftain of a neighbouring
and hostile tribe saw the beautiful Nacoochee, and loved her. He stole her
young heart. She loved him with an intensity of passion that only the noblest
souls know. They met beneath the holy stars, and sealed their simple vows with
kisses. In the valley, where, from the interlocked branches overhead, hung
with festoons, in which the white flowers of the climate, and the purple blossoms
of the magnificent wild passion-flower, mingled with the dark foliage of the muscadine, they found a fitting place. The song of the mocking-bird, and the murmur of the Chattahoochee's hurrying waters, were marriage-hymn and anthem to them. They vowed eternal love. They vowed to live and die with each other. Intelligence of these secret meetings reached the ear of the old chief, Nacoochee's father, and his anger was terrible. But love for Laceola was stronger in the heart of Nacoochee than even reverence for her father's commands. One night the maiden
was missed from her tent. The old chieftain commanded his warriors to pursue
the fugitive. They found her with Laceola, the son of a hated race. In an instant an arrow was aimed at his breast. Nacoochee sprang before him, and received the barbed shaft in her own heart. Her lover was stupefied. He made no resistance, and his blood mingled with hers. The lovers were buried in the same grave, and a lofty mound was raised to mark the spot. Deep grief seized the old chief and all his people, and the valley was ever after called Nacoochee. The mound which marks the trysting-place, and the grave of the maiden and her betrothed, surmounted by a solitary pine, are still to be seen, and form some of the most interesting features of the landscape of this lovely vale."
The mountains are, Ellick's, Sall's, Skitt's, Tray, Currahee, and Mount Yonah. Currahee rises gradually, in a conical form, until it reaches an elevation of nine hundred feet. On the east, it sinks completely to the usual level of the land; but on the western side, after descending for many hundred feet, it blends with a ridge that unites it with the chain of the Alleghanies.
The Yonah is among the highest mountains in Georgia. The distance from the bottom to the top of it may, perhaps, be a mile on a gradual slope.
From the summit a delightful view is afforded. Plantations and dwellings are seen interspersed among the hills and forests, watered by sparkling rivulets, presenting a varied landscape, resembling a carpet of patch-work. The village of Clarkesville may be distinctly seen from hence.
The following account of a
subterranean village is copied from an
old newspaper:-- "About twenty years ago, a singular discovery was made of a subterranean village in this county. The houses were disinterred by excavating a canal for the purpose of washing gold. The depth varied from seven to nine feet. Some of the houses
were imbedded in the stratum, or gravel. The logs were but partially decayed,
from six to ten inches in diameter, and from ten to twelve feet long. The walls
were from three to six feet in height, joined together, forming a straight line upwards of three hundred feet in length, comprising thirty-four buildings, or rooms. The logs were hewn at the ends, and notched down, as in ordinary cabins of the present day. In one of the rooms were found three baskets, made of cane splits, and a number of fragments of Indian ware. From the circumstance of the land having been covered with a heavy growth of timber previous to its cultivation by the whites, twelve years before the time of its discovery, it was inferred that they
were built at some remote period. The houses were situated from fifty to one
hundred yards from the principal channel of the creek.
"A great number of curious specimens of workmanship were found in situations which preclude the possibility of their having been moved for more than a
thousand years. During the operations of a gentleman, he found, at one time,
about one-half of a crucible, of the capacity of near a gallon. It was ten feet below the surface, and immediately beneath a large oak-tree, which measured five
feet in diameter, and must have been four or five hundred years old. The depo-
site was diluvial, and what may be termed table-land. There was a vessel, or
rather, a double mortar, found in Duke's Creek, about five inches in diameter,
and the excavation on each side was nearly an inch in depth, and perfectly
polished. It was made of quartz, which had been semi-transparent, but had become stained with iron. Some suppose it was used for grinding paint, or for
some of their plays or games. The lot of land upon which this discovery was
made is in the third district of Habersham, four miles from the Nacoochee
valley, on Duke's Creek."
The celebrated Falls of Tallulah are in this county, and all who have visited them unite in saying that they merit a high place among the natural curiosities of the United States. The following account of these falls is from the pen of David P. Hillhouse, Esq.: " The stream is, by the Cherokee Indians, called in some places Tarrurah, at other places Tallulah. It is the western branch of the Tugaloo River, and the rapids are situated about ten miles above its junction with the Chattooga, which is the eastern branch of the Tugaloo. The rapids are about twelve miles from Clarkesville. The river passes through a range or ridge of mountains, for somewhat more than a mile, forming for its bed an awful gulf, and for its banks stupendous fronts of solid rock, like those of Niagara, just below its great cataract, and of the Genesee River below the fall in that stream, a few miles above Lake
Ontario. These banks of Tallulah are worn by its waters, in many places, into caverns and grotesque figures, and often the sides are perpendicular, and smooth beyond the means of art to imitate. Just at the head, and also at the foot of the rapids, the banks of Tallulah River are not more than ordinary height above common water-mark. In the intermediate, distance, the height of the banks varies from two hundred to five hundred feet perpendicular. The width of the river is from fifteen to one hundred feet. There are four perpendicular pitches of water, of from fifty to eighty feet, and a great many smaller cataracts of from ten to twenty feet perpendicular pitch. There are but two or three points by which a person can possibly descend to the bed of the river, and these are the tracks of small rivulets emptying themselves into the river on the west side, and making several very steep precipices, down which one may possibly pass by aid of the shrubbery that grows in the hollows. When arrived at the water's edge, to look out at the opening of the great cliffs above, is surprising, interesting, and alarming!
"These cliffs, combined with the foaming, roaring, bounding, impetuous current of water, exhibit novelty, beauty, and grandeur, in the greatest degree. At the instant the visitor views the current some hundred feet below him, he shrinks back, in apprehension of his destruction. Still curious to view it more, he cautiously advances again, until by degrees he becomes so familiar with the scenery, as to be perfectly enraptured. At every step he beholds some new dress that gives additional interest to the prospect. But there is no tinselled ornament to the banks of Tallulah. In a wild, uncultivated, and barren country, no art has been introduced to deface this grand exhibi-
tion of nature. Sculptured chasms and fonts, elevated portals, formidable stockades, impregnable fortresses, deep perpendicular cascades, and successive bounding currents, added to the many rainbows that continually shine (when the sun does) through the spray that rises from the falling water, and the variegated colours in front of the rocky banks of red, white, yellow, and brown, and the small rivulets that pour down into the gulf from the mountain's top, give novelty, beauty, sublimity, and awe, to the rapids of Tallulah."
On the 5th of July, 1837,
the Rev. Mr. Hawthorn, a minister of the Presbyterian Church,
arrived at Clarkesville by the stage. He preached in the evening of
that day and on the following Sabbath, and gained the approbation,
and almost the admiration, of all who heard him. Those with whom he
became partially acquainted during this time, esteemed him very
highly as a Christian minister.
With others, he went on a visit to the Tallulah Falls. After the
party had closed
their excursion to the Falls, he and some other gentlemen concluded
to go into a
beautiful basin of water, between two of the falls, for the purpose
Some ladies being in company, they waited on them to some distance,
Mr. Hawthorn alone at the water intending to return and bathe with him. They did return, but only found his clothing on the rocks-he was gone, and gone forever. It is supposed that he went into the water; and, from some circumstance unknown, sunk to rise no more. The strictest search, by a number of gentlemen, was made, but the body was not found.
The Toccoa Falls are on a creek of the same name. The water falls more than one hundred and eighty-five feet perpendicular. No description can give an idea of the beauties of this fall and the surrounding scenery.
"Among the curiosities of this county is the Chopped Oak, a tree famous in Indian history, and in the traditions of the early settlers. This tree stands about six miles southeast of Clarkesville, and is noted as being the 'Law Ground', or place of holding company musters and magistrates courts. According to tradition, the Chopped Oak was a celebrated rendezvous of the Indians in their predatory excursions, it being at a point where a number of trails met. Here their plans of warfare were laid, here the several parties separated, and here, on their return, they awaited each other; and then, in their brief language, the result of their enterprise was stated, and for every scalp taken, a gash cut in the tree. If tradition tells the truth, and every scar on the blasted oak counts for a scalp, the success of their scouting parties must have-been great. This tree was alive a few years since, when a young man, possessing all the prejudices of his countrymen, and caring less for the traditions of the Indians than his own revenge, killed the tree by girdling it, that it might be no longer a living monument of the cruelties of the savages."
Minerals of almost every kind exist in Habersham. It was in this county that the first gold mines were discovered in Georgia. The following is a list of the principal ones:-Loud's, Gordon's, Lewis's,
Holt's, Richardson's, White & McGie's, Gordon & Lumsden's, Williams's, Little John's, Horshaw's.
Iron is abundant.
In addition to the
minerals already named, the county has cyanite, garnets, carnelians,
augite, asbestos, tourmaline, rubies, plumbago.
Three diamonds have been found in the county.
Extract from the Census of 1850.-Dwellings, 1,338; families, 1,338; white males, 3,962; white females, 3,713; free coloured males, 2. Total free population, 7,677; slaves, 1,218. Deaths, 17. Farms, 732; manufacturing establishments, 5. Value of real estate, $327,003; value of personal estate, $1,083,771.
Among the early settlers of this county were, General Wafford, Gabriel Fish, Major Williams, John Robinson, Alexander Walden, B. Cleaveland, John Whitehead, John Grant, Jesse Kiney, Charles Riche, Mr. Vandevier, Hudson Moss, Wm. Herring.
This county was named after one of the Habershams, but which one we cannot say with certainty.
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